Thursday, April 11, 2013

On Writing Stuff Part 4 (Reality, Distractions and Delays)

Welcome to part 4 in my 11,789 part series on writing. Today we have a special treat. I will be doing a Q&A with Lance Dilly. Dilly is the author of the wildly successful children’s novel Don’t Stab the Cat with That Icicle and the heart-warming bestselling collection of adult paranormal poetry Raindrops on Tears.

Lance, thank you for being here.
Call me Mister Dilly.
(Interviewer chortles).
Why is that so amusing, Steven?
I’m sorry, Mr. Dilly… The name sounds like a euphemism. I think of Jim Morrison being arrested in 1969 for introducing Mr. Dilly to the audience in Miami.

Well now that Mister Dilly is gone, I have some space to take up. *note to self—work on interviewing skills. I was going to ask him about what it took to write his books, so instead, I’ll talk about how I wrote my first novel RISE OF THE PENGUINS

Let’s take a trip back to 2005 when my teenage daughter was chatting with her friends on World of Warcraft. I jumped in her conversation and typed a few words about penguins. I recalled a short story I had written years before, and I soon began writing out the idea. Because I had never really had much time on the computer and I didn't know that Microsoft Works© was a really shitty, crappy bad word processor thing, I failed to save after every paragraph other word and, of course, I lost the first twenty pages to my book. 
Works doesn't.

But I was young and ignorant. Okay I wasn’t really that young. So with me thinking this writing stuff was easy, I pressed on and bought a stack of spiral-bound notebooks and I wrote. I wrote every day, every spare minute I had until, and I’m serious about this next part, I developed carpal tunnel syndrome. Actually the injury was caused by some poorly designed equipment at my job, but it was quite painful, and my writing slowed to a crawl. So two surgeries and eight weeks of physical therapy later I could finally write again.

I spent the spring of 2006 blasting through notebooks. (I wrote the entire novel by hand, not on the computer after my Works experience). I was doing well. I was working a lot of mid-night shifts, which was fine by me because that gave me undisturbed time to write while on my breaks; I had gotten myself in the best shape I had been in since my high-school football days and then the next thing you know, at 38 years old, I found myself getting two coronary stents because two of my arteries were 99% blocked. The doctor said I probably would have died had I not got the appointment when I did. The thing about life-changing events and the whole almost dying thing is it can sometimes cause you to lose your focus. Well wouldn’t you know it, 2007 rolled in and I was still sitting on a book that was 5/8 finished. After another surgery and recovery that year, I got to it and finished the book!

I spent the remainder of ’07 converting the hand written text to digital, editing all along the way. So by the end of that year I had a completed novel and absolutely no idea what to do next. I decided I needed an editor. I found a friend of the family with the credentials, and he spent the next year and a half editing 70% of the book. In the meantime, I had lost my job (actually forced to resign because I sued the company for my injuries caused by their faulty machines. I can’t mention the name of the evil multi-national glass corporation that made my last year working for them a living hell for legal reasons).

2008 came along, my book was still with the editor, I found a new job and then my heart decided to make it’s presence known again. No big deal that time, I had only one artery that was 80% blocked. I got my partially edited book back in 2009. I decided I had to just put it out there and submit it and see what happens. I was rejected. Okay. I brushed it off and found a new editor. Wouldn’t you know it, on January 11th, 2010, I suffered a major heart-attack. Three months later, my second editor passed away of the same thing that almost got me. My doc said no more stress and no more heavy work. So that meant I spent the rest of 2010 headed for a divorce and I went back to school. All the while, there sat my lonely little book.

I joined a writers group, got a Facebook account, met some old friends, one of whom is an author and really showed me a few dozen things (Actually more than a few dozen, and I credit him with more than he probably knows). I met another old friend who encouraged me to get to the living part of life. When she became my wife in 2012, she pushed me past the very real fear of publishing my book. (More on fear in the future). And in spite of all of those little or major roadblocks life put in the way, my book is available for sale to the good people of the world. 

So there it is. The condensed history of a novel and getting past the things that life throws at you and getting your work done. So whether that next heart-attack comes this year or next year or in twenty years and if don’t get lucky again, I can say I have a book in print (and on Kindle and Nook). Yeah it’s not a NY Times best-seller (yet) and there might be a few things in the book I would change now, but the fact is I did it and I’m currently writing another novel in the RISE OF THE PENGUINS Saga.

Well I hope this brief bio gives one or two of my seven or eight readers an insight to the author and maybe even inspire one of you to keep on pushing through whatever life throws at you, because there is a light at the end of the tunnel (Dang it…another tired cliché). Until next time, when I'll talk about my adventures in the Congo and finding Mokele-mbembe, keep on reading (hopefully about my penguins). Feel free to add a comment or talk about what you have (had) to overcome to get where you need to be.